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Name: People v. Lucatero
Case #: F053221
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/15/2008
Summary

A police officer does not violate a homeowner’s reasonable expectation of privacy by entering the home with a realtor under the ruse of being a prospective home buyer, as long as he does nothing that would violate the owner’s legitimate privacy expectations as defined in the context of the owner’s general invitation to the public to view the interior for marketing purposes. After receiving a tip from an untested informant, a police officer posed as a potential home buyer and contacted a realtor to view the suspected home which was for sale. While touring the home, the officer was able to corroborate information provided by the informant, namely that the house was vacant except for a green Nissan in the garage and that he would find a sleeping bag in the garage because a man was sleeping there. Based on the information, the officer was able to obtain a warrant, and its execution resulted in appellant’s arrest for drug charges. Appellant argued the fruits of the search were tainted as a result of the first entry which was conducted without a warrant and without consent. The Court of Appeal upheld the denial of the motion to suppress. A realtor’s authority to permit entry is not limited to an actual bona fide potential buyer, nor is his or her authority vitiated by some secret intent possessed by the person who claims to be an interested buyer. In fact, not all people that ask to see a house are seriously contemplating purchasing it. The officer acted as any potential buyer and neither saw more nor did more than any other person in that situation would see. In so doing, the officer did not exceed the limited consent given by the homeowner when he listed the house for sale, that people would view the interior of the house in the company of a realtor.